Updated: Jul 24
[Pete and Martha Jane Petersen started Christmas International House, which came under the umbrella of AMIS in 2002. Martha Jane shared this story with me just the other day.]
It was 1960 in Columbia, South Carolina. Pete Petersen invited 10 international students from several seminaries to stay at the Westminster campus ministry house during the Christmas Break. They did day trips, and people and churches hosted students for meals. Two of the students were from Congo, and some of the hosts did not want Africans in their homes, which provided an ongoing problem. One day they went to Charleston. To make things “easier”, Pete made arrangements for a church to host the students for a meal, but sent the two African men to someone’s house because he didn’t want to tell the church about them. As they walked away from the church and the group, Pete knew he had made a mistake. It was a quiet meal.
In 1972 Pete and Martha Jane Petersen were near Kananga in Congo (Zaire at that point) for a retreat. One of the men who ran the guesthouse was Simone…one of the two men who had not been allowed to enter the church for a meal in 1960. It just so happened that another Congolese man, George, who was also in Kananga had participated in CIH a few years later. He had had a wonderful experience and shared his story with Simone. Pete, Simone, and George spent time in prayer, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
Today, Martha Jane makes quilts--many of which respond to current events. Right now she is planning one symbolizing the ongoing reconciliation in our broken world.